WOODSIDE — The Department of Transportation has started installing bike lanes along 31st Avenue, despite worries from members of Queens Community Board 1 that portions of the street are too dangerous for cyclists.
The first painted lines of the new lanes appeared earlier this month. The lanes are expected to be a mixture of shared and protected bike paths on 31st Avenue stretching from the Astoria waterfront through Woodside and into East Elmhurst.
While many cyclists supported the proposal at CB1's meeting in June, the board voted to ask that the DOT bypass 31st Avenue between 55th and 60th streets, detouring south onto 32nd Avenue instead for those five blocks.
They said the original proposal was hazardous to cyclists because of heavy traffic and double-parked cars along part of the stretch.
CB1 transportation committee chair Bob Piazza said the DOT ignored that request, and that painted lines have already begun to be installed along the portion of the street the board asked the agency to avoid.
"They came in and they did them [the bike lanes] in the one spot that we didn’t want them to do," Piazza said.
"The neighborhood is a nightmare," he added, saying he's particularly worried about the intersections at 56th and 58th streets, where there's heavy traffic of cars going in and out of a supermarket and a busy Honda dealership nearby.
"Someone is going to die there," Piazza said.
But cyclists and transportation advocates had previously railed against CB1's detour request, saying having cyclists turn off of 31st Avenue would be riskier than allowing them to continue straight.
"It's actually going to be more dangerous to have to take that turn than to just go straight and deal with whatever double-parked trucks there may be," Juan Restrepo, a member of Transportation Alternatives' Queens Committee, said in June.
A DOT spokesman said the agency studied the possibility of adding a detour but decided to implement the bike lanes as they were originally planned.
The portion between 55th and 60th streets will have markings, including new crosswalks, to make it clear where pedestrians, cyclists and drivers are intended to go, the spokesman said.
Community Board 3 approved the portion of the plan that runs through its district in June.